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Love Languages  

The concept of love languages comes from a series of books written by Dr. Gary Chapman, a pastor and marriage counselor.  It is a concept I have found useful in working with many couples so I thought I would share it with you here.  The basic idea is there are different ways people express and experience love and most people have one or two that are their primary “love languages.”  Dr. Chapman identified five: words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, gifts, and quality time.  I believe the things they refer to are pretty self-evident, so I won’t define them for you. 

This is often helpful for couples when they realize they have different primary love languages so they aren’t expressing love in the way that best meet each other’s needs.  Learning to “speak” each other’s language and “hear” each other’s language can be helpful.

Take, for example, a couple where his primary love language is words of affirmation and hers is acts of service.  He regularly tells her how much he appreciates her and loves her but is not as attentive to her needs as he could be.  She doesn’t speak much about her feelings for him but is proud of how she manages household things in a way she knows he likes and is frequently doing special things for him like arranging his stuff every night to be ready to go to work the next morning.  He feels neglected because he doesn’t hear much from her about how she appreciates him.  She feels neglected because he seems to never do anything for her.  Both are incredibly puzzled when the other tells them they don’t feel loved and that don’t experience each other as showing love.

If they learn the love language concept they can go out of their way to express their love in ways their partner appreciates.  She can offer words of admiration and he can do little things for her to make her day easier.  That is learning to speak each other’s love language.  He can also learn to recognize the things she does for him are signs of her love and she that his words are the signs of his love.  That is learning to hear each other’s love languages. 

You can see how such knowledge could bring a strong benefit to a relationship.  If you and/or your partner aren’t feeling as loved as you would like in your relationship, perhaps the two of you should have a discussion with each other and try to identify your love languages.  It might open up more possibilities for connection.